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WHY THE DOCTRINE OF ANGELS
IS NEGLECTED IN THE LAST DAYS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, January 15, 2012

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:2-4).


Billy Graham said, “I have never heard anyone preach a sermon on angels...I’ve asked myself, why this oversight? Why have we ignored the great biblical teachings about angels?” (Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Doubleday and Company, 1975, p. 17).

Graham then pointed out that all books of systematic theology have sections dealing with angels. But we don’t hear this doctrine preached from the pulpits of our day.

I do not agree with Billy Graham on several subjects, especially regarding “decisionism.” But Graham asked a good question when he said, “I have never heard anyone preach a sermon on angels...why this oversight? Why have we ignored the great biblical teachings about angels?” In my sermon “The Angels Are With Us!” (click here to read it) I pointed out two of the reasons: (1) Many preachers have not been converted, and (2) many others have not been called to preach. Pastors in that condition cannot be expected to see the need to speak on spiritual things.

But there is more to it than that. This is a man-centered age. Most people are not interested in what God has revealed in the Bible about spiritual things. They are man-centered rather than God-centered. They are only interested in themselves, and what they can see and feel in the material world. That certainly includes a great many church people today.

In his penetrating essay, “The Bible World is the Real World,” Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

      When reading the Scriptures the sensitive person is sure to feel the marked difference between the world as the Bible reveals it and the world as conceived by religious people today. And the contrast is not in our favor...Jacob saw a ladder set up on the earth with God standing above it and the angels ascending and descending upon it. Abraham and Balaam and Manoah and how many others met the angels of God and [spoke] with them...Angels were present to tell of Jesus’ coming birth and to celebrate that birth when it took place in Bethlehem; angels comforted our Lord when He prayed in Gethsemane; angels are mentioned in some of the inspired epistles, and the Book of Revelation is bright with the presence of strange and beautiful creatures intent upon the affairs of earth and heaven...
      Yes, the true world is a populated world. The blind eyes of modern Christians cannot see the invisible but that does not destroy the reality of the spiritual creation (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “The Bible World is the Real World,” Of God and Men, Christian Publications, 1960, pp. 116-117).

The only thing I take exception to is that these “modern Christians” are Christians at all – in any meaningful sense of the word. The “eyes of their understanding” have never been opened. This shows that they have not experienced the new birth. The Apostle Paul described these so-called “Christians” in verses three and four of our text.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”
       (II Timothy 4:3-4).

The Prophecy Study Bible gives these comments on our text,

Paul...provides further warnings for the last days of the Church Age. The word “endure” has the basic meaning of “to support” ...Thus, there will come a time when the majority within the Church will not support the teaching of sound or healthy doctrine. The word “lust” means simply “strong desire,” but in this context it has a negative connotation. A tolerance of false doctrine originates from the desires or feelings of people who do not want to follow God’s Word. These church members are said to have “itching ears,” which means that they want their preachers to speak only pleasantries. They do not want to hear the instruction of sound doctrine, nor will they be satisfied by the Word of God, so they will be attracted to human ideas and fables to fill the void (The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 2000, p. 1304; note on II Timothy 4:3-4).

Most congregations in the “last days” are dominated by unconverted people, who make up the majority of those in attendance. The preacher can only speak on “happy things.” As the Prophecy Study Bible put it, “They want their preachers to speak only pleasantries.” If the pastor says they are sinful or wrong he will lose many of them! That is why many preachers are afraid to speak the truth! Since most people in the congregation have never been born again they do not want to hear reproving, rebuking and exhortation (II Timothy 4:2). “They will not endure sound doctrine” (II Timothy 4:3). That is why so many preachers turn to “fables” (II Timothy 4:4) such as pop-psychology, positive thinking, the prosperity gospel, “motivational” preaching, and also to Bible “expositions” that do not “reprove,” “rebuke,” or “exhort” their people (see Christless Christianity by Dr. Michael Horton, Baker Books, 2008).

Angels are not the only thing left out of today’s preaching. When do we ever hear complete sermons on sin, Hell, Satan, demons, the Blood of Christ, or Jesus Christ Himself? We almost never hear whole sermons on Christ’s atonement on the Cross. We almost never hear whole sermons centered on Jesus Christ Himself! We almost never hear whole sermons on the new birth! Surely we are living in the last days! Surely we are living in the time prophesied in II Timothy 4:2-4!

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:2-4).

Self-help studies, motivational messages, and verse-by-verse Bible studies are about all we hear in our pulpits in the last days, in which we live. Verse-by-verse Bible study is not what our forefathers heard in the three great awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries! Away with such “expositions” from the face of the earth! We have heard them for decades and they have not helped us! We need meat, doctrinal meat, meat from God’s Holy Word!

The Bible has a great deal to say about the doctrine of angels – and you need to hear it today! Dr. P. B. Fitzwater served for many years as professor of systematic theology at the Moody Bible Institute. I am lifting out two points on this subject from Dr. Fitzwater’s Christian Theology: A Systematic Presentation (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958 edition, pp. 255-257).

I. First, angels minister to those who are the heirs of salvation.

Dr. Fitzwater quoted Hebrews 1:13-14, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14). Dr. Fitzwater said, “It is here directly asserted [that the angels] minister on behalf of God’s children. It is not stated that there is a definite angel for the individual believer. It is sufficient to know that there is this ministry on behalf of the saved. The angels seem to have a particular interest in young believers. ‘Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 18:10). This interest is in keeping with the needs of immature [Christians]. The young have most critical needs. They must live their lives in a world of evil. It is most blessed to know that God has special concern for the young believer and that He thus provides the needed ministry for these by [the angels].”

Manifestations of angelic help are also occurring in places where Christians are persecuted for their faith. In Muslim countries, and Communist countries, we hear of angels ministering to those who are “heirs of salvation.” The angels often help these persecuted Christians in times of peril.

Although I do not agree with Billy Graham on separation, decisionism and some other subjects, I found his book on angels quite refreshing. Billy Graham said, “Missionaries of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have reported many wonderful incidents where angels seemed to help them proclaim the gospel” (ibid., p. 112).

But angelic help has not been confined to the past alone. Today, in many nations where the Gospel is restricted, Christians have found help through the ministry of angels. Reports of angelic help come to us from China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, north Africa and other parts of the Third World. A native Christian worker in China said that Americans are often blind to the ministry of angels because, “If you think you are strong and rich, there will be no miracles around you.”

As America continues to decline and fall, the time is approaching when real Christians here will also see their need for angelic help in the midst of peril and persecution. In the evil days ahead a remnant of true Christians here will also see that God alone can help them.

II. Second, angels execute judgment upon God’s enemies.

Dr. Fitzwater quoted Acts 12:23, “And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:23). Dr. Fitzwater said, “The wicked Herod was smitten by the angel of the Lord because he gave not glory to God. ‘And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses’ (II Kings 19:35). In response to the king’s prayer, the angel of the Lord was sent to smite the Assyrian army, giving deliverance to Israel.”

Dr. Fitzwater went on to say, “[The angels] gather God’s elect and execute judgment upon the wicked. ‘So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 13:49-50). By the angels the wicked are separated from among the just...In this ministry of judgment there can be no possible failure; no device of man can delay or thwart their ministry” (ibid., pp. 254-259).

If you are not among the elect you can be sure that angels will separate you from among the just, and will cast you into the fire of Hell, where you will wail and gnash your teeth for all eternity.

Oh, may that not happen to you! May you even now turn from your unbelief to Jesus. He suffered and died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. He shed His Blood to cleanse you from all sin. He ascended back to the right hand of God and is available to you now! Come to Him. Trust Him. “He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now.”

In times like these, you need a Saviour,
   In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure
   Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the one;
   This Rock is Jesus, The only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
   Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
(“In Times Like These” by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
   Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
   In the light of His glory and grace.
(“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Helen H. Lemmel, 1863-1961).

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” You need Him! Only Jesus can save you from your sin. But to trust Jesus, you must stop trusting yourself. Spurgeon said, “Trust Jesus, and you are saved. Trust self, and you are lost.” Some of you have been trusting yourselves. I ask you to come to Jesus and trust Him. But you quickly look at yourself, to see if you feel different, to see if there has been a change inside of you. Instead of trusting Jesus, and letting it go at that, you look at yourself – to see if you had the “right feeling” or the “right change.” Thus, you trust yourself instead of Jesus! We have known people who did that for years without being saved. If that describes you, listen to the words of this old song

I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways
   My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
   Is ever, only Jesus.
(“In Jesus” by James Procter, 1913).

As I wrote this sermon a little black bird struck the glass window of my home office. The bird got up and struck the window again, then again, then again. At last I got up and scared the bird away. Some of you are like that little bird. You do the same thing over, and over, and over again, but you are still lost. You say you will trust Jesus, but you quickly look at yourself. Since you see no change, or no new feeling in yourself, you say you are still lost. I am telling you to stop examining yourself! There is a time to stop examining yourself and start examining Jesus! Come to Jesus and don’t look back at yourself at all. “I’ve tried in vain.” Sing it with me.

I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways
   My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
   Is ever, only Jesus.

If you look back at yourself you will only see darkness and sin. Don’t be like Lot’s wife – who looked back at Sodom and was lost! Your heart is a little Sodom, full of sin and darkness. Come to Jesus, and don’t look back at yourself! As Spurgeon said, “Trust Jesus, and you are saved. Trust self, and you are lost.” Come to Jesus, and don’t look at yourself at all. Many others have been saved after a long struggle like this. Look to Jesus. Come to Jesus. Trust Jesus. And don’t look back at yourself. Come to Him without the “right feeling” and you are saved. Look at yourself and you will be damned – along with Lot’s wife. Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Look to Jesus, trust Him, and don’t look back! Don’t examine yourself again! Come to Jesus and don’t look back at yourself at all! “Trust Jesus, and you are saved. Trust self, and you are lost.” Sing that song again.

I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways
   My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
   Is ever, only Jesus.

Spurgeon said, "[Do you think] that it would be a horrible thing if you were to trust Jesus and yet perish?  It would be so.  But [since] you must perish if you do not trust [Him], the risk is not great. 

I can but perish if I go;
    I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know
    I must for ever die."

You have nothing to lose, for you are lost already; therefore make a dash for [Christ] and dare to believe in the mercy of God to you – even you” (C. H. Spurgeon, Around the Wicket Gate, Pilgrim Publications, 1992 reprint, pp. 50, 51). Sing that song one more time.

I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways
   My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
   Is ever, only Jesus.

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here) – or you may
write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Timothy 4:1-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

WHY THE DOCTRINE OF ANGELS
IS NEGLECTED IN THE LAST DAYS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:2-4).

I. First, angels minister to those who are the heirs of salvation,
Hebrews 1:13-14; Matthew 18:10.

II. Second, angels execute judgment upon God’s enemies, Acts 12:23;
II Kings 19:35; Matthew 13:49-50; Luke 17:32.